Human resource professionals are generally the first point of contact for vending operators at locations. Oftentimes, HR professionals are also the decision makers when it comes to employee benefits such as health insurance, paid time off and office break room coffee and food.
Human resource managers are an integral part of the vending and office coffee service process, as they can help an operator win or lose a contract. Each year, the Society for Human Resource Management hosts a conference, which more than 14,000 office decision makers attend. By exhibiting at a human resource conference, vending and office coffee service operators can network with HR representatives, vice presidents and presidents who all have a say in what types of foodservice is offered at their company.
The SHRM conference in numbers
In 2014, the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) was held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL, from June 22 to 25 with 13,000 attendees and 625 exhibitors, twenty of which were food- and beverage-related companies including Keurig Green Mountain, National Vending, Company Kitchen and Avanti Markets.
“Of our 14,000 attendees, 60 percent are human resource managers and 40 percent represent other areas of administration such as presidents, vice presidents and chief operating officers,” said Emile Davis, manager of exhibits and sponsorships for SHRM. “From a vending perspective, the foodservice exhibitors go there to expose and promote their services to the thousands of potential clients, to have their services implemented at the attendees’ companies.”
Human resource managers attend SHRM to gather current industry news, as well as to gain insight into possible added benefits for employees.
In its 2014 “Employee Benefits: A Research Report by SHRM,” the Society for Human Resource Management found that 76 percent of organizations offer complimentary or subsidized coffee as an employee benefit while 64 percent offer employee-paid snacks and beverages in vending machines and 20 percent offer company-paid free snacks and beverages. The report also revealed that 8 percent of organizations offer an on-site convenience store for employees. Office coffee and vending is considered an added benefit to employers that will keep employees in the location; by exhibiting at a human resource conference, vending and coffee services can easily promote why their business offerings would be an added benefit to potential locations.
Exhibitors ranged across several industries including childcare, employee compensation & benefits, insurance and office health, wellness & safety.
Kris Ellington, national account executive at Avanti Markets, was an exhibitor at the 2014 SHRM conference. “We [Avanti Markets] have doubled the number of attendees who have stopped by our booth every year that we’ve exhibited,” she explained. This year was the third time Avanti Markets has exhibited and as Ellington noted, the company’s exposure grows each time. “This year we had 1,400 attendees stop by the Avanti booth to learn about our micro markets, to see if they could implement them in their office.”
This type of exposure is not only beneficial for the exhibitors who gain clients, but it is also beneficial for the HR representatives who can learn about current office foodservice trends, such as the micro market, among others.
The trend: health & wellness
Davis recalls that this year, many companies at the SHRM conference were placing an emphasis on preventative health and wellness benefits in order to decrease associated health risks and save on long-term health care costs. In the SHRM report that came out this summer, 79 percent of companies reported offering wellness resources and information to their employees while 62 percent of organizations offered wellness programs and 36 percent of companies reported offering rewards or bonuses for completing certain health and wellness programs.
Micro markets and new, expanded healthy vending options may appeal to prospective HR representatives who are looking to add even more benefit for employees.
How to get started
SHRM has more than 575 affiliate chapters and nearly every state affiliate offers a state conference. Attending and/or exhibiting at a state or national human resource conference could help vending and coffee service operators promote their business and ultimately gain contracts.
Even if an operator is unsure of whether or not to exhibit, Davis offers a complimentary visitor’s pass to walk the show floor of the annual conference. “If anyone is looking to exhibit, they are welcome to receive a complimentary pass, attend the conference as a viewer and walk through before deciding to exhibit for the following year,” he explained.
Attending and exhibiting at human resource conferences can help vending and coffee service operators connect with human resource managers, president and vice presidents; those who are oftentimes the decision makers when it comes to office food and beverage services.